Linked with Stephen Lendman – USA,
Published on Atlantic Free Press, by Stephen Lendman, 13 April 2008.
On April 9, 2002, Attorney General John Ashcroft made a symbolic visit to “Ground Zero.” While in New York, he held a well-publicized press conference at the US Attorney’s Office and used the occasion for an indictment. Four individuals were named on charges of conspiracy and materially aiding a terrorist organization. One of them was long-time civil rights lawyer Lynne Stewart. On the same day, FBI agents arrested her at her home and illegally seized documents there and from her office that are protected by attorney-client privilege …
… In July 2003, Federal District Court Judge John Koeltl (a 1994 Clinton appointee) dismissed the original charges for being “unconstitutionally void for vagueness” and because they “revealed a lack of prosecutorial standards.” Nonetheless, Stewart was symbolically reindicted on November 22, 2003 (the 40th year anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination) on five counts of aiding and abetting a terrorist organization under the 1996 Antiterrorism Act. Specific charges included:
— “conspiring to defraud the United States;
— conspiring to provide and conceal material support to terrorist activity;
— providing and concealing material support to terrorist activity; and
— two counts of making false statements.”
Stewart was also accused of violating US Bureau of Prisons-imposed Special Administrative Measures (SAMS) that included a gag order on her client, Sheik Abdel Rahman. These measures are imposed on some prisoners to forbid discussion (even with an attorney) of topics DOJ claims are outside the scope of their “legal representation.” It’s all very vague, does more to harass and obstruct justice than protect state secrets, yet Stewart was forced to accept them to gain access to her client.
In her case, police state-type attorney-client monitored conversations provided the basis for her indictment. However, engaging in this practice stretches the limit of the law, gives DOJ sole authority to decide how far and for what purpose, and in this instance egregiously overstepped it by charging defense counsel with aiding and abetting terrorism for representing her client as required …
… Assistant US attorney in the Southern District Anthony Barkow, who was part of the prosecutorial team, argued for the government before a potentially sympathetic court. It’s at a time two-thirds of all federal judges are from or affiliated with the extremist Federalist Society. It advocates rolling back civil liberties; ending New Deal social policies; opposing reproductive choice, government regulations, labor rights and environment protections; and subverting justice
in defense of privilege.
This is what Stewart is up against as she awaits the decision that can go either way in an age of police state justice. Under New York state law, she was automatically disbarred, and the state Supreme Court’s Appellate Division denied her petition to resign voluntarily. Adding insult to her unjust conviction, it ruled that “federal convictions provide a proper predicate for automatic disbarment.”
It was the fourth injustice against a woman who spent a lifetime advocating for society’s most disadvantaged. It followed two falsified indictments, a kangaroo court proceeding, and an unjustifiable conviction on all counts. Combined
they represent an outrageous miscarriage of justice.
An appeals verdict is due any time, and legions of Stewart supporters hope justice delayed won’t be denied to her. She deserves full exoneration, readmittance to the state bar, and to be able again to represent society’s most unwanted who need her advocacy and remain hopeful. So does everyone who respects the law at a time it’s being desecrated. (full long text, April 13, 2008).
(Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached by e-mail. Also visit his blog site and listen to The Global Research New Hour on RepublicBroadcasting.org, Mondays from 11AM to 1PM US Central time for cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests).